Elizabeth Garrett, First Female President Of Cornell University, Dies Of Colon Cancer

She was 52 and had led the Ivy League school for less than a year.

Cornell University President Elizabeth Garrett died late Sunday of colon cancer, the Ivy League school announced Monday

Garrett, who was 52, had taken office as the first female leader of Cornell on July 1, 2015. She scaled back her workload less than a month ago after announcing her cancer diagnosis. 

"There are few words to express the enormity of this loss," Robert S. Harrison, chair of the Cornell Board of Trustees, said in a statement. "Beth was simply a remarkable human being -- a vibrant and passionate leader who devoted her life to the pursuit of knowledge and public service and had a profound, positive impact on the many lives that she touched."

He added, "From the moment I met her during the presidential search, it was clear to me that she had the intellect, energy and vision not only to lead Cornell, but to be one of the greatest presidents in our 150-year history."

Garrett attended the University of Oklahoma as an undergraduate and went to the University of Virginia for law school. She clerked for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and worked as an aide for then-Sen. David Boren (D-Okla.).

She also taught at the University of Chicago, Harvard Law School and the California Institute of Technology, among other schools. Before taking charge of Cornell last year, Garrett served as provost at the University of Southern California.

President Barack Obama had nominated Garrett to be assistant secretary for tax policy in the Treasury Department early in his first term, but she withdrew citing "personal considerations."

Cornell plans to honor Garrett with a moment of silence, followed by chimes, on Monday afternoon.

"While Beth’s tenure as president has tragically been cut short, her efforts over the last eight months have set the university on a path toward continued excellence," Harrison said. "She will leave a lasting legacy on our beloved institution and will be terribly missed."



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